COLUMN EIGHTY-SEVEN, MARCH 15, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
BY MAUREEN DOWD
THE BLOODTHIRSTY SON
Article: Bush Ex Machina
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2003 10:31:36 -0500 (EST)
Bush Ex Machina
March 2, 2003
By MAUREEN DOWD
WASHINGTON - George W. Bush
has often talked wickedly about his days as the black sheep of a blue-blooded,
mahogany-paneled family. But the younger rebellion pales before the adult
revolt, now sparking epochal changes.
The president is about to
upend the internationalist order nurtured by his father and grandfather,
replacing the Bush code of noblesse oblige with one of force majeure.
Bush 41, a doting dad,
would never disagree with his son in public, but in a speech at Tufts last week,
he defended his decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power after Desert
"If we had tried to go
in there and created more instability in Iraq, I think it would have been very
bad for the neighborhood," he told the crowd of 4,800. (Was he referring to
Baghdad or Kennebunkport?)
He conceded that getting a
coalition together is harder now, because the evidence about Saddam's weapons of
mass destruction is "a little fuzzier" than was his evident invasion
of Kuwait. But 41 still thinks coalitions work:
"The more pressure
there is, the more chance this matter will be resolved in a peaceful
manner." (Maybe he should enter the Democratic primary.)
At the very same moment the
father was pushing peace, the son was treating the war as a fait accompli. At
the American Enterprise Institute, he finally coughed up the real reason for
war: trickle-down democracy.
Unable to handcuff Osama
and Saddam, he soft-pedaled his previous cry for a war of retribution for 9/11.
Now he was being more forthright, calling for a war of re-engineering.
"A new regime in Iraq
would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in
the region," he said, adding: "Success in Iraq could also begin
let our poor
pay for my war
Conservatives began drawing
up steroid-fueled plans to reorder the world a decade ago, imperial blueprints
fantastical enough to make "Star Wars" look achievable.
In 1992, Dick Cheney, the
defense secretary for Bush 41, and his aides, Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby,
drafted a document asserting that America should prepare to cast off formal
alliances and throw its military weight around to prevent the rise of any
"potential future global competitor" and to preclude the spread of
The solipsistic grandiosity
of the plan was offputting to 41, who loved nothing better than chatting up the
other members of the global club. To Poppy and Colin Powell, this looked like
voodoo foreign policy, and they splashed cold water on it.
In 1996, Richard Perle, now
a Pentagon adviser, and Douglas Feith, now a Rumsfeld aide, helped write a
report about how Israel could transcend the problems with the Palestinians by
changing the "balance of power" in the Middle East, and by replacing
The hawks saw their big
chance after 9/11, but they feared that it would be hard to sell a
eschatological scheme to stomp out Islamic terrorism by recreating the Arab
So they found Saddam guilty
of a crime he could commit later: helping Osama unleash hell on us.
Mr. Bush is his father's
son in his "trust us, we know best" attitude.
After obscuring the real
reasons for war, the Bushies are now obscuring the Pentagon's assessments of the
cost of war ($60 billion to $200 billion?), the size of the occupation force
(100,000 to 400,000?) and the length of time American troops will stay in Iraq
(2 to 10 years?).
A Delphic Mr. Wolfowitz
tried to blow off House Democrats who pressed him on these issues: "We will
stay as long as necessary and leave as soon as possible."
Rahm Emanuel, a congressman
from Chicago, chided Mr. Wolfowitz, saying, "In the very week that we
negotiated with Turkey, the administration also told the governors there wasn't
any more money for education and health care."
The president's humongously
expensive tax cuts leave less for all programs except the military.
Asked if we should give up
the tax cut to underwrite the war, the president demurred, replying,
"Americans are paying the bill."
Nobody knows if the Bush
team's hubristic vision for redrawing the Middle East map will end up tamping
down terrorism or inflaming it.
Either way, deus ex
machina doesn't come cheap.
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company ##
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